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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brinkman Adventures Review #hsreviews

Brinkman Adventures Review
When it is time to clean house my girls like to turn on an audio story to listen to while we are cleaning. They have some favorites that they like to listen to over and over again, but we always love when we find new ones that we all enjoy. Lately we have been listening to The Brinkman Adventures.
Brinkman Adventures Review
We have been listening to The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24. This newly released CD series are stories from a real life missionary family that is recommended for the entire family. Season 2 contains 12 episodes for over 5 hours of stories. It can be purchased as a MP3 download for $17.00 or a 4 set of CDs for $25.00. The Provider is Episode 9 from season 1. You can listen to the entire episode free to hear how they trust in God to provide for them.

The Brinkmans are a real missionary family. The children on the audio stories are the real Brinkman children, but they use different names. The mom and dad didn't want to be in the stories, so the mom and dad in the recordings are not the real Brinkman parents. Some of the stories that are included in series are from their own missionary journeys, but some of them are stories they have heard from other missionary families. 

We received Season 2 as a MP3 download. I downloaded the files to my desktop without any problems, and we listened to them directly from my laptop. We have a pair of external speakers to hook up to so that we can turn the volume up so everyone can hear while we cleaned house. The girls listened very intently because sometimes I would catch them listening more than getting their chores done.  

In Season 2 we get to travel with the Brinkmans as they make their way to Mexico to visit fellow missionaries. The missionaries in Mexico run a school, but they don't have the money for curriculum. The young Brinkman boys find a ring & they decide to sell it and use the money to purchase curriculum for the missionaries in Mexico. One boy starts to feel guilty and wants to find the owner of the ring. After they find him, he is ok with them using the money for curriculum. Once they get to Mexico, the Brinkmans continue having adventures with treehouses, bugs, pirates and more while living among the people and learning you cannot always trust everyone.

Season 2:
  • #13 The Mystery Ring
  • #14 Blue Hat & T-Shirt Bible
  • #15 How Big is Your God, part 1
  • #16 How Big is Your God, part 2
  • #17 Mexico by Bus
  • #18 Treehouse Academy
  • #19 Pirates of Mayan Island
  • #20 Sapphire Slave, part 1
  • #21 Sapphire Slave, part 2
  • #22 Hadi's Choice
  • #23 Castle of Secrets
  • #24 On the Run

If you head over to their website you can read about the real missionary stories that the adventures are based on. There are also some pictures and videos from some of them. Coloring pictures that may be printed are available for episodes 1-6, hopefully they will continue to add them for the other adventures. Behind the scenes videos can give us a glimpse of what happens during a real recording. 

All three of the girls (ages 9, 11, & 13) and I have been enjoying the Brinkman Adventures. We love listening to adventure stories and I am so thankful that we don't have to worry about inappropriate language. These are adventure stories so there is an element of suspense, but it wasn't anything that was inappropriate. My girls really like learning about other cultures and it is fun getting a glimpse at how missionaries in other countries live and trust in God.
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

CTC Math Review #hsreviews

CTC Math Review
Out of all 5 of my kids only my youngest really likes math. They all love to count money & Amber loves fractions & story problems but when it comes to the every day problems on a piece of paper Alaina is the only one who asks to do more. The last several weeks we have had an online Math Tutor by using CTC Math.
CTC Math comes in several options. They offer Single Student Plans and Family Plans that may be purchased monthly, 6 months at a time or 12 months at a time. We received the 12 Month Family Plan that can be used with 2 or more students in grade K-12. It normally costs $297.00 but you can subscribe right now for $118.80.
CTC Math Review
CTC Math is an online math program that works like a tutor. You will have access to every grade level from Kindergarten to Trigonometry. This program is originally from Australia and is becoming very popular in the U.S. Pat Murray is the teacher for all video lessons and my kids love his accent. Amber said she would love it even more if he wasn't teaching math. 
The first thing I did was log in to the Parents' Area and set up my student accounts. In the Parent's Area I can see all of my students overall progress at a glance. I also see the most recent activity and the score that was received. Result reports can be generated & certificates that have been earned by each student can be viewed.
Alaina (age 9) and Amber (age 13) used this program and when they log in they have the option of choosing any grade level to work on. After selecting the grade level they can choose the Stream and then the Topic. Once the topic is selected they are given a short demonstration in the form of a slide show with the instructions given by Pat Murray. After the demonstration the student will answer related questions. After the question is answered the student proceeds to the next question. A check mark appears for the correct answer and if they have a wrong answer an "X" will appear and the correct answer will be shown. After a topic is completed the student will be awarded a certificate. The certificates that are awarded are given a platinum, gold, silver, or bronze seal. 
Besides the regular lessons the student has access to speed skills tests, their awards & reports. They are also able to search the entire program to find what they are looking for. The speed skills are basically speed drills that move on regardless of right or wrong answers. At the end of the test the student will see which ones they got right or wrong. 
We used CTC Math as a supplement to our regular curriculum. I wanted to choose something that they hadn't really spent a lot of time learning. I had Alaina work on telling time, calendars, and measurements. Amber worked on calculator skills. Both of the girls liked working with CTC and they have learned a lot. 
I'm not sure why but I hadn't worked on telling time much with Alaina. So she started with that. Once she got the hang of how they wanted the answers worded she did very well and picked it up right away. She worked on calendars also even though she knows how they work she thought it would be fun. After a couple of lessons she gave up because they use the calendar starting with Monday and ending with Sunday. When she would answer the question she wouldn't look at the day because she just assumed it was like our calendar & she would get the problem wrong. She is currently working on measurements and is enjoying it. I also had her work on her speed skills. Of course when I let her choose she will do addition and multiplication speed skills. 
Amber hasn't used a calculator other than basic math skills. She has been working on learning how to use all the components of a calculator and a scientific calculator. She is learning a lot, but some of the problems she thought were easier to work in her head than actually remember how to use the calculator. Like problems that us parenthesis, those are easier for her to work rather than remember to input the parenthesis. These will be skills she will want to know how to do later.
We all really like this program but I would love for the missed problems to be reexplained or demonstrated before the next question is asked. During the time problems Alaina would sometimes forget to say the exact wording they wanted and then she would get frustrated. If she had been reminded after the first problem she wouldn't have missed the next ones.  
CTC Math has been great for Amber & Alaina. I'm planning on having them continue using CTC throughout the summer to fill in gaps that they need to work on and then in the fall start them in their next grade level. I love having access to all the levels at once, because Alaina is in the fourth grade, but I actually started her in the third grade to work on time and then she moved right on to the fourth grade level to get her caught up to where she needs to be.  

Alaina loves her certificates!
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Philosophy Adventure Review #hsreviews

Home School Adventure Co.
Home School Adventure Co. wants to inspire and equip parents to teach their children to be loving, compassionate, strong, and wise because they are fearfully and wonderfully made. 

Crew members were offered several items from Home School Adventure Co to review and we received Philosophy Adventure
Philosophy Adventure
Philosophy Adventure is recommended for 6-12 grade students, and can be counted as high school credit. It will help your students cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how to speak articulately, and write & think critically. I received the Pre-Socratics Reader, the Pre-Socratics Student Workbook, and the Pre-Socratics Teacher Resources as a PDF file. The digital download is available for $39.95 or you may purchase physical products or a combination of both. 
Philosophy Adventure
Philosophy Adventure is divided into 8 lessons that can be used in a 4 or 5 day school week. The same components are repeated in every lesson. 

The Pre-Socratics Reader is a 160 pages, and contains Philosopher stories, writing assignments & guidelines, thinking & memorizing, speaking, geography, cultural information, and contrast of a biblical worldview. In the back of the book are several lists and resources to help the student from pre-writing activities to a final evaluation on their writing.  

The Student Workbook is 143 pages. It contains information on each philosopher, maps, questions, journal pages, and a glossary for the student to fill in. This is an interactive PDF, so the student can fill in their answers directly on the computer or it may be printed. 

The Teacher Resources contains 110 pages. There are resources for vocabulary, memory cards that can be cut out, journal pages, philosopher notebook pages, timeline, master maps with keys, and quizzes.

I have been using Philosophy Adventure with Amber (age 13). She is my child who has to hold the book, so we printed the student workbook and the teachers resources. We transferred the reader to our Kindle and read it from there. 

We have been working on this together, so we can have more discussions. I am a visual hands-on type of learner & I loved the time lines that are included, Amber on the other hand has this amazing timeline in her head & can mentally keep track of events. She loves the maps & the journal pages. We have both been learning a lot.

Amber loves information & she loves to write, but sometimes her writing lacks proper order or could be a little more interesting and not so factual. By using the journal pages and the writing check lists she has started thinking about her writing before she just sits down and writes. She actually has some order going on & is starting to pay more attention to her audience. 

The stories of the philosophers are very interesting to read and some of them included things that have happened in more recent years that go with the story. We enjoyed the stories of each philosopher we wanted to skip ahead and just read the stories. The tips that are given to encourage memory, good writing and speaking skills are very helpful and are working for Amber. The questions in the reader & in the journal are mostly opinion questions with no right or wrong answer.  

I am a visual hands-on type of learner & I love the time lines that are included, Amber on the other hand has this amazing timeline in her head & can mentally keep track of people and events. She loves the maps & the journal pages. 

Home School Adventure Co.
Home School Adventure Co. has given us a coupon code for you to receive 10% off of your next purchase if used before May 15, 2014. 
Use Code: CREW-10
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Daniel & the Lions Den Puppet Show


Amber & Delaney in a puppet show with their friends from church. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Decorating Easter Eggs

Decorating Easter Eggs is one tradition we do every year. The first year Mike and I were married I made him decorate & hide Easter Eggs with me. I'm sure he was thrilled, but he was willing to do anything I wanted to do. 
After decorating I always ask the girls to show me their favorite egg for the year.
Of course Alaina had to draw a pig on one of her eggs! At least she drew a rabbit on another one.

 Delaney liked her darker eggs this year. She had to let them sit in the dye for awhile to get them that dark. 

I think Amber is into green this year. 

I'm glad my girls still enjoy decorating eggs & I hope they continue to enjoy it for a few more years.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Curiosity Quest Review #hsreviews

Curiosity Quest Review
We love field trips. It brings so many things to life for my girls & they remember so much from them. This time we experienced field trips from a DVD. We received the DVD Combo Pack-Produce and DVD Combo Pack-Swimmers of the Sea from Curiosity Quest
Curiosity Quest is a program for children ages 7-14 that explores things people are curious about. They are 30 minute episodes that are available on DVD or on over 100 PBS stations throughout the country. Curiosity Quest receives questions from kids who are curious and then Joel Greene goes on an adventure to answer those questions. 
If you are curious you can ask Joel a question and see if he will answer your question. 
Curiosity Quest Review
We watched the DVD Combo Pack-Swimmers of the Sea first because we had just finished a zoology book about swimming creatures for school. This DVD contains the Salmon, Sea Turtle Rescue, and Penguins episodes. Each episode is around 30 minutes and this DVD with three episodes sells for $24.95.
Curiosity Quest Review
During the Salmon episode we got to visit the Alaska Dept of Fish and Game & the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. 
Sheila Cameron is the Internship Coordinator for the Alaska Dept of Fish & Game and Emily Krogstad is the Tourism and Education manager for the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. Joel tagged along with Sheila & Emily while they showed us around the fish hatchery and the stream where millions of salmon return to spawn every year. Salmon go on a tremendous journey every year and I didn't realize they can jump up to 12 feet. We all agreed that our favorite fact we learned in this episode is how to remember the names of the 5 species of Alaskan salmon. We even learned some new vocabulary words. Do you know what anadromous and catadromous mean? 
Curiosity Quest Review
Joel received a letter from California wanting to know about Sea Turtles. He answers that question by heading to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL. This hospital is located here because this is where sea turtles come to nest. Bette Zirkelbach shows Joel where and how they care for the injured sea turtles. They are a rescue, rehabilitate, and release hospital so their goal is to return the turtles to the wild. Did you know that it is illegal for an average person to touch a sea turtle? We didn't, but Joel couldn't even touch one during the episode. 
Curiosity Quest Review
Curiosity Quest Review
Joel received a question about penguins so he headed for Long Beach, CA to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Sara Mandel is the Aviculturist at the aquarium and she takes us behind the scenes so that we can learn about Mangellanic penguins. We learned how they got their name & even how many feathers per square inch are on their body. Joel gets to get up close and fishy as he learns to feed the penguins. 
After finishing the Swimmers of the Sea we watched Cranberries, Mushrooms, and Orange Packing on the DVD Combo Pack-Produce. All three episodes last about 30 minutes and all three episodes are on one DVD for $24.95.
Curiosity Quest Review
Curiosity Quest Review
Wisconsin is where Joel takes us to learn about cranberries. We love to make things out of cranberries, so as soon as we started this episode we had to stop and get a white chocolate cranberry scone. 
Ray Habelman Jr. is the CEO of the largest fresh cranberry grower in the country. Ray shows us how the cranberries are harvested and how they are sorted and packaged at the factory. Do you know how many chances a cranberry gets to bounce to be a good berry or if they will be made into juice? We didn't. We didn't even know how they got their name.
We also got to hear from Scott Schultz owner of Russell Rezin & Son, Inc. They produce craisins and process their cranberries a little different than Ray. I was very glad to hear that the cranberries are made into craisins or juice within one hour of harvesting. 
Curiosity Quest Review
Joel must love to visit CA. This time he takes us to Monterey, CA where we got to visit Monterey Mushrooms. They are the largest mushroom producer and shipper in the US. David Fullington the Mushroom Farm Manager and Chris Thompson the Mushroom Growing Manager show us all around. 
We got to see how they grow mushrooms staring with making their own compost dirt to grow them all the way to packaging them. We are told when they came to the US & the differences between mushrooms, portabellas & toadstools. They are handpicked and we were startled to here that one person can pick 104 lbs. of mushrooms per hour! 
Curiosity Quest Review
The Orange episode didn't come from a question, but from some girls who visited an orange production plant & thought it would make an awesome episode for Curiosity Quest. 
Jay Gillette is a part owner of the Gillette Citrus Co. in Dinuba, CA. He is a third generation orange producer and he is very passionate about his oranges. He has 2500 acres of orange groves and produces 25 billion oranges yearly. Jay shows us how the oranges are hand picked and every step of the packaging process. He uses technology to help separate good & bad oranges. 
During all the episodes Jay gets right in there and tries to do what his hosts do every day for a living. He includes a little humor throughout the episodes and makes sure we all understand and learn facts. Each episode Joel asks people questions about what we are learning about & it was kinda fun to see if they knew the answers or not. 
All three of my girls and myself enjoyed watching the episodes and they all would love to watch more episodes. Amber age 13 would love to see the Hot Air Balloon episode, Delaney age 11 would love to watch the Horseback Riding & Globetrotters, and Alaina age 9 wants to watch the Jelly Belly episode. I would like to watch the Chef & Cakes. 
Alaina even submitted a request. She loves pigs and is curious to see a pig farm with lots of baby pigs in action.
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Supercharged Science Review #hsreviews

Supercharged eScience Review
One thing my kids like about science are the experiments & I will have to admit that sometimes I get lazy and would like to skip that part. They were thrilled when we received access to Supercharged Science to review because it contains so many experiments.
We received six months access to the K-12 Level Plan of the e-Science Program which is $57.00 per month. We were given a link for you to receive the $30 Science Activity Video Series & Guidebook free or you may obtain 30 day access to grades K-8 or grades 9-12 the for just $1.00.   
Supercharged Science gives you 20 Units that cover everything from mechanics, electricity, light, chemistry, biology, earth science and more. There are also extra units that gives an overview of science, the scientific method, science fair projects, and more.  
When you first log in you can select the Unit you want to work on by topic or grade. Each additional month you subscribe you will receive access to more units. We were given access to all the Units to aid in my review.  
After selecting the Unit you are going to work on you will have a short introduction video & mp3 file to listen to along with a reminder to take notes in your journal. On the right side you can view and download each lesson in the unit and a shopping list for any items that will be needed in the experiments. Once you get into the lesson you have another video to watch.  The scientific concepts are listed underneath along with all the experiments. There are also lesson plans that may be printed to go along with each unit. It includes a unit description, key vocabulary, objectives, & textbook reading.   
 
I used this with all three of my girls ages 9, 11, & 13.The first week they were so excited to just work on an experiment I just let them choose some random ones to work on themselves. The next week we attended the IMAX Flight of the Butterfly movie, so we selected a life science lesson for further study. Then we went back to work on an entire Unit. The girls actually chose Unit 1 Mechanics and we worked through this Unit utilizing the experiments, lesson plans, audio & video files. The time we spent each day varied greatly depending on what all we did. We already had most of the supplies for the experiments. My 13 year old did look at the Chemistry Unit & we will need to order things online for that unit when we are ready.  

My girl's favorite experiment so far has been the hydraulic lift. They were so excited that it actually worked & they were very pleased with the finished product. It has been sitting on our table for weeks and they have shown everyone that has stopped by how it works. 

I will admit that my girls retain a lot more information if they have something to do with their hands. These experiments have been great & they have not needed a lot of parental help. Aurora Lipper does an excellent job at teaching science. 

Aurora Lipper created Supercharged Science to make science fun for kids. She is a stay-at-home mom to her 4 kids. She has a graduate degree in mechanical engineering, worked for NASA, has designed rockets, has 3 patents for her invention, taught on the faculty of Cal Poly University, has taught K-12 science to over 10,000 kids, is a licensed pilot, and is the president of the California Central Coast Astronomical Society.  
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Victus Study Skills System Review #hsreviews

Victus Study Skills Review
"For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain."  ~Dorothy Sayers
There are two things that I think everyone needs to know in order to succeed in life no matter what they decide to do. They need to be able to research anything to understand it better & they need to know how to study properly to make the best use of their time. When we were offered Victus Study Skills System to review I knew I wanted Amber to use it before she starts high school. We received the Teacher Edition & Student Workbook.
Victus Study Skills Review
Victus Study Skills System teaches that study should become a way of life and their aim is to equip the student for success in academics and in life. It is geared mostly for 5-12 grade students, but it can be used with younger children with more parental involvement. The course is divided into 10 lessons and a high school student can finish it in one week & jr. high student could spread it out over two weeks. Susan Ison is the author of Victus Study Skills and she started on this journey when her first grade daughter asked her how to study for a test. 

This course covers three Foundational Cornerstones: 
  • Where am I now? ~ This foundation has the student looking at themselves. They look at their own study habits, and their learning strengths. Once they figure out if the are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners they can use the suggested learning aids for their dominate learning strength. 
  • Where do I want to be? ~ This foundation helps the student set their goals and priorities by looking at the future. It includes goal planning sheets where the student can write down their goals, and the objective and action plan for each one. 
  • How do I get there? ~ The third foundation looks at time management, schedules, and organization. It also gives study tips like where you should study, how to be an active listener, note taking, test preparation & test taking.
All 10 lessons include a Purpose, Preparation, and a Procedure. The Appendix contains extra worksheets and tips that can be used throughout the course. 


Victus Study Skills Review
The Teacher Edition has 82 pages, is softcover & spiral bound. It can be purchased for $40.00, & it is divided into three sections. 
  • Section 1 ~ Helps you understand the foundation of the course. 
  • Section 2 ~ This is the actual lessons, and each one includes the purpose, preparation, and at least one procedure. The student pages are included here exactly as they are in the Student Workbook except the Teacher Edition pages contains the answers.
  • Section 3 ~ This is the Appendix section & it contains supplemental information that can be used in the course and follow up ideas for the student. 
Victus Study Skills Review
The Student Workbook is a softbound spiral workbook and is available for $20.00. 
I had 13 year old Amber use this Study Skills System. She completed the workbook in two weeks by finishing one lesson per day. Some of the lessons we would read together and discuss a little before she completed the procedure section, and some lessons she just completed on her own. She thought the program was very easy to work through and spent less than 30 minutes on most of the lessons. 
We enjoyed going over Amber's learning strengths & the chart that determined she is a visual/auditory learner was right on. She has already been keeping her own monthly schedule for a couple of years so she was good on this section. She actually got the most out of the note taking hints. 
I think this is a very solid Study Skills System. Some of the things I thought were just common sense, but for a child that needs to develop study skills they are things that should not be overlooked. 
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fishing Cake @Lisacay #birthdaycake

It ended up being a fun week for cake. I will share a couple of them with you and a few stories.
I made a cute little fisherman in a stream.
This cake was for a young man turning 17. He is into flying remote control planes and this is what his looks like. His favorite kind of cake is coffee cake, but he wanted icing with his plane on it. I baked my coffee cake with the crumbles on top & then I just flipped it upside down so I could icing the smooth bottom. I made an extra coffee cake so we could see what coffee cake with buttercream icing tasted like. After trying it with my regular icing I decided to add some almond flavor to it & it was very good. The birthday boy was pleased.

This cake was made for one of my regular customers. She orders all of her kids birthday and celebration cakes from me. Well, this time it was her birthday. I got a call for a cake for an Angie & as soon as they told me where to deliver it I knew who it was for. I think it was a surprise for her because she sent me an email that exact day to let me know she will need birthday cakes at the end of the month.



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